It is naive to think that most people pay any attention to who represents them in government. In fact, only around half of Americans know the party affiliation of their Congressperson. Another quarter didn’t answer, and the final quarter thought they knew, but were wrong.
This is even worse when you realize that if you just randomly guess, you have a 50% chance of guessing right (ignoring third parties). Yup, the percentage of people who know the party affiliation of their representative in Congress is virtually equal to random guessing.
And that’s for a relatively important office.
So without real information, people are going to vote on the basis of who blares out the most ads that appeal to people’s emotions. And this has been true since the first politicians who kissed babies or promised to be “tough on crime”.
And to the politician who is trying to buy votes, there is a strong advantage when the majority of the population are low information voters. It makes it cheaper to buy the votes you want because you don’t have to buy as many.
In some depressing sense, the Supreme Court was right. Money is speech, because words don’t have much actual meaning any more. Heck, we might have better elections if they just paid people to vote for a certain candidate.